The rapid interest and advancement in modern technology has been a topic of controversial conversation for the last few decades. We live in a world where we are, for the most part, unaware of the extensive influence everyday technology has on our lives. Christian Lous Lange once said “Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master.” Knowing whether technological advances will bring negative or positive outcomes, has been an enigma to humanity. That said, we have to bare the question: are there repercussions for technologies growth?
Tim Wu’s article “As technology gets better, will society get worse?” emphasizes on the technological vs biological evolution. Making clear that the current population’s priority isn’t in biological evolution, but how technology can impact our near future. Wu grabs the reader’s attention by starting out the article with a self-reveling metaphor. He uses books and stories to get his opinion on the matter across. Giving a formal and fresh explanation that is to the point.
Colette Parker’s “The advancement of technology: Positive or negative” shows the topic of technology in many different ways. While always finding a way to express the fact that technology is a tool that can be held in the wrong hands. He uses many different sources to get his claim across and does an interesting job of switching between technologies’ pros and cons. This zig-zagging way of writing gives his article a very distinct but intriguing logical foundation, where each source further cements his idea.
Wu and Parker have many differences in their subsequent priorities of technologies’ negative effects on humanity, but they also share many similarities. Neither writer is narrow minded in technologies contributions, they see the positive aspects and talk about the ways technology gives people the opportunity to better themselves. Wu and Parker both agree that technology itself isn’t a danger to us (at least not currently) the real danger is how we use and why we use it. They both agree with the fact that the real problem with technological evolution is that it doesn’t progress because of a need, but because of humanities wants. Within that, they explain, lies the reason that so many people believe technology is doing harm.
In an attempt to get his audience to understand the true severity of technologies impact on society Wu takes us on a trip to an isolated area south of the Hudson Bay. He tells us that this land is home to a group with a population of about thirty thousand, called the Oji-Cree. The Oji-Cree were a culture completely unaware of and untouched by technology. Wu writes that they depended on snowshoes, dog sleds, and canoes for transportation. They hunted for their own food and for the most part were survivalists and nomads. Many doctors and settlers have been in contact with the Oji-Cree throughout the twentieth century and many wrote about their physically demanding life style. “A doctor who worked with the Oji-Cree in the nineteen-forties has noted the absence of mental breakdowns or substance abuse within the population, observing that ‘the people lived a rugged, rigorous life with plenty of exercise’.” The Oji-Cree’s simple, hunter gatherer lives ensured that they had to keep shape to be able to survive. During the nineteen-sixties, trucks began making the trip up north, as a result newer technologies eventually made its way to the Oji-Cree’s grasp. Wu explains that because of the sudden and also drastic technological advance, the Oji-Cree didn’t respond well. They no longer had the necessity of hunting for their food or many of the things they were forced to do prior. Since technologies arrival forty percent of their population is diagnosed with diabetes, they have developed morbid obesity and heart disease to name a few things. Wu shows us the big flaw with societies “Technological Evolution” because it is not a need, but a want; people tend to abuse it if not properly educated in how to use it.
Parker’s vision of technologies effect on society is a bit broader. He, like earlier mentioned, jumps around many different topics that together create a picture of what it is he is trying to say. He writes of the fear that humans have towards technology; while sometimes coming across a bit over the edge his point is taken. Parker dives deep into the reasoning for the creation of the negative views technology gets. He tells us a story of a young boy killing three police officers because he played Grand Theft Auto and felt that life was just a game and “you’ve got to die sometime.” After the story about the boy, Parker began talking about technologies positive aspects, bringing up points such as medical advancements and life expectancy. It wasn’t until he switched it all around by saying that all of those medical advancements are owned by companies with their own agendas and profits to make that I really felt that he was getting to something. He says “Moral responsibility is weakened by this greed for money; they have lost the objective in saving lives or making people healthy again.” He makes a point that even the positive aspects of technology most times create shadows of negativity. Even though Parker’s views are broader than Wu’s it can be seen that they ultimately address the same issue, where it isn’t technologies doing, but humanities greedy and unmanaged way of handling it that makes it negative.
While the overall point of Wu and parker’s respective articles may share similarities, the way they each get to their conclusions are drastically distinct. Wu introduces his audience to a group and applies pathos to further impact the reader, he starts off explaining how well off these people are, how they are a simple society with little to no problems and as he is describing their culture and lifestyle you begin wanting the best for them. When Wu addresses the disease that they will come to know to be technological impact, you can’t help but feel sorry for them.That emotional tug is a very strong way of persuading the audience to your corner. While it is great for the pathos aspect of things, the formula that he used to write his article is also strong for logos, as it shows things happening in subsequent order.
Parker has a more difficult time empathizing with the reader, the reason being that he doesn’t dive into his respective point as much which doesn’t make it personal. The most emotionally involved moment is when Parker begins writing about the loss of tradition and the peoples fear, it is one of the only times that he isn’t just responding to another person’s ideas. Parker may lack in the area of emotional persuasion, but he more than makes up for it with credibility. He’s constantly quoting mathematicians, critics and actual events (such like the boy) to show that what he is writing is more current and factual. While having some creditable sources in the beginning, Wu later becomes vague (maybe not on purpose) writing what a doctor wrote about the Oji-Cree, but not really giving specific names or times when such things happened.
As a current actively involved member of modern society, I share many of the same concerns expressed in these articles. People are unknowingly becoming less functional. The world is becoming a big couch potato, entranced by the common five inch display. We are less involved in each other’s lives and many kids today share a sense of anti-social behavior, because of it. We have become so accustomed to socializing through apps, that trying it in real life is at the point of being odd. Control is no longer a physical thing but digital, it is also starting to seem that your status or amount of followers is gaining priority over other important things in people’s everyday lives. Parker taught me that people will keep creating and innovating technology without stand still, not necessarily because they want to improve human condition, but because it sells.
I learned that the biggest problem with most of the new technology coming out is that it isn’t made to make are lives better, but lazier and keep us entertained. Businesses might not do it specifically for that reason but that’s what sells, and technological advance is a business after all. When it comes down to it, mixing what the two articles are saying may be the key. It isn’t about resenting the world we are going into and looking back at our old ways, but knowing our limits and not allowing ourselves to indulge to deeply in the comforts so that we as a population don’t end up the same as the Oji-Cree. The answer that I’ve come to understand is, there will always be repercussions to technologies growth, there can be a million outcomes, but we are in control of that. Like everything else, we get to choose what we allow to affect us. That way we don’t have to cripple as technology strengthens.
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